Ten years ago, the first Regulation on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) entered into application, launching a new era in the history of citizens’ participation. The 2022 edition of ECI Day marked a special anniversary of this unique cross-border instrument.
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The 10th edition of the ECI Day exceptionally took place online and over two days. 3 June was a full day of debates on the ECI instrument, focusing on aspects key to making the ECI more powerful and strengthening participatory democracy at EU level. On 4 June, the organisers of ongoing initiatives were given the floor to present their initiatives.
ECI Day is an annual conference that has been organised by the EESC and its civil society partners since 2012, the year in which the first ECI Regulation 211/2011 was published. The 2020 (ninth) edition was marked by a major development, which was the entry into force of the new Regulation introducing substantial improvements and simplifications to the ECI procedure. However, the conference went beyond the text of the Regulation and presented a more global view of citizens' participation in general, with a view to putting the ECI in the context of topical societal developments and the debate on the Future of Europe. The EESC organised an interactive panel with researchers and authors on citizens' participation in the era of new technologies and more deliberative patterns in public consultations in order to allow for an open debate on present-day and future participation.
The European Economic and Social Committee and the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council wish to hold a joint information seminar on the European Citizens' Initiative. The aim of the seminar is to present the ECI, as well as the work done by the EESC in this field, and to exchange experiences of initiatives undertaken at national and European level to better understand and manage the impact of citizen-led campaigns on the actions and decisions of legislators.
The year 2019 marks a new step in the life of the European Citizens' Initiative. In March, the European Parliament voted on the final text of the new ECI Regulation, which proposes a series of administrative simplifications and procedural changes to make this tool more citizen-friendly and less burdensome for the organisers. ECI Day 2019 was the first to present you with the final text of the new Regulation and explored further how it was intended to benefit active citizens wishing to influence the EU's agenda. This year, the theme of the conference was Digital Voices, reflecting the ongoing changes in the global trends in voting and citizens' active participation. Digital natives no longer wait for elections to express their preferences; they voice their concerns at all times and at every opportunity. The ECI Day explored these new digital trends in the particular context of the European elections.
Following the new European Commission proposal of September 2017, the European citizens' initiative has new wind in its sails. It now faces a lot of changes, many of which may greatly simplify administrative and organizational burdens. These changes will soon be discussed in the three-way consultations between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.
The ECI DAY 2018 will seize the moment and offer a first-hand insight into the positions of the three legislators, represented respectively by the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the European Parliament general rapporteur György Schöpflin and the 2018 Council Presidency ministers / state secretaries from Bulgaria and Austria.
The ECI DAY 2017 focused on the individual involvement of citizens and their active role in policy shaping. It was organised in the context of the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaties, the first treaty to talk about European citizenship, in order to show all the positive developments of the concept and a number of new tools to involve citizens. The theme "I participate!" was to underline the importance of citizens' personal involvement in building up a comprehensive democratic system in the EU.
The ECI DAY serves as a meeting place and platform for the registered and future ECI organisers to meet and exchange information and experiences, and present their ECIs to the media.
The 2016 edition will focus on the ways of dealing with the identified difficulties, also to emphasize why the simplification of the rules is indispensable. The organisers will find out more about the help available, about what instruments are out there to maximize the impact of their initiatives. Finally, a broader context of participatory democracy in the EU will be drawn with information on the existing tools.
EESC's public hearing on the European Citizens Initiative in the context of the ongoing review process. Questions to be tackled: policy areas covered by the ECI and the validation process; the current political limits to participatory democracy on a European level; the role of the EU institutions and Member States in the process and a better defined support.
The President referred to the shortcomings of the ECI legislation and the problems encountered by organisers in the first years. He announced that the EESC was offering organisers of registered ECIs the opportunity to have the text presenting their ECI translated, thus addressing one of the most pressing problems for new ECIs and presented the European Passport to Active Citizenship.
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